By Adeyemi Robinson-Adefioye, Lagos
Over 120 players from all the 36 states of Nigeria and the Federal Capital territory, Abuja are expected to participate at the inaugural National Wheelchair tennis national ranking tournament scheduled to hold from 30th November – 3rd December in Lagos.
Nigeria Wheelchair Tennis scribe, Wosilat Aliu-Abass, informed www.gongnews.net that entries are still being expected from states who have all been sent letters of invitation for the championship.
She added that Wheelchair Tennis Nigeria, which is a division under the Nigeria Tennis Federation, is expecting a massive participation due to the fact that the tournament offers opportunities for players to occupy good position which would in turn help them in selection for national assignments.
Nigeria wheelchair tennis coach, Frank Tarmena stressed that the tournament will help in discovery of new players for the national team which will also enhance competition among the players.
He stressed that the tournament would also afford players that have been deprived of featuring in tournaments like the Central Bank of Nigeria Open which is invitational to have chance of participation.
“Since the last three years, it has always been the same set of 16 players that have been featuring in the CBN Open due to the fact that the ranking has always been about the same set of players but this time around, new players have the chance to break into the top 16 which will pave the way for them to also feature in CBN and any other tournaments,’’ he said.
Tarmena, an ITF Wheelchair Tennis Instructor, said the tournament will feature three categories namely male, female and quad division. He lamented the dearth of tournaments which he pointed had adversely affected Nigeria’s position as a leading country in wheelchair tennis in Africa.
“We would have been miles ahead of South Africa and Egypt if we have been having at least three national tournaments each year but sadly, we have only the CBN in the past six years which is grossly inadequate for us to be producing talents.”
Tarmena pleaded with corporate bodies to back wheelchair tennis stating the game present opportunities for physically challenged ones to be empowered through sports.
“With the way we started about ten years ago, we would have had not less than eight players that would have been playing professional wheelchair tennis abroad and that would be aside dozens that would be dominating the continent but the support for the game had receded in the past few years.”